Working with geospatial data can be rather complex to begin with and like working with most other complex problems, you start by defining your goals. By goals, I here mean the “understanding you wish your target audience (can by yourself) to achieve”. It is beyond the scope of this text to cover all goals relating to using geospatial data. The corpus of learning material is therefore organized around seven main entry points:
- Collecting geospatial information as data
- Accessing and Managing Geospatial data
- Analysing and transforming geospatial data
- Disseminating Geospatial Information (Sharing data, making maks and other visualisations)
- Common workflows
- Geospatial software
- General concepts, some background and supporting theory
- Learning paths
The first four of these seven entry points are the four main tasks of a Geographic Information System (GIS). The use cases entry point contains start-to-end examples of problem-solving using geospatial technologies. The Geospatial technology entry point is mainly meant as a place to look up solutions /guides to common problems in relation to the use of a given technology. Finally, the Learning path entry point contains curated paths through the corpus of learning material designed for specific courses or workshops. If you are new to the topic, I would recommend following the “how to make a map” learning path simply because this is what most beginners want to do and because this learning path probably offers the most genital introduction to geospatial technologies.
Whatever the situation, I find that one of the key components to successfully using geospatial technologies is maintaining a design rationale throughout the process. A design rationale is a text where you define your goal and, how to achieve them. It is a good idea to keep this design rationale as untechnical as possible, enabling others to question and inspire your work without having to be in possession of a high technical understanding of the geospatial technologies in use. Throughout this text, I will include examples of how to write a design rationale addressing some key issues in relation to the topic covered.
Finally, if you are reading this text as a static document (print or pdf) please remember that the “original” text is a dynamic online text that can change over time and that the entire corpus of learning material is not made available as a single static document that typically is generated for specific course situation. You can always access the online site at https://www.geoinformatics.online
Choice of Technologies
While we will focus on free and reliably available software and services, there are situations, especially when it comes to online services, setting up solutions based on free and open-source software becomes unreasonably complex compared to the fee for a paid solution. Since this will always be a matter of balance between economic and time resources, we will focus on solutions that, at the time of writing, allowed for free-of-charge test periods and or good prices for nonprofit projects enabling you to establish a free or at least cheap learning environment. Naturally, many educational institutions will have their own student licenses. When using paid solutions, we will provide pointers to alternative solutions.
Choice of data
All data used in this compendium will be free and publicly available. Although the majority of data will be Danish English descriptions and links will be included. There will also be a focus on ensuring that the data is general in nature and the examples are easily transferred to other countries.